The creator of the interior of Ford's Mercury Meta One concept car, Prozzi is a former fashion designer for Donna Karan. He's trying to apply that same sensibility to his current job--which is no less than to figure out how to merge the latest in technology with the more pedestrian habits of Ford drivers.
At the recently concluded New York International Auto Show, Prozzi showed off some of his latest thinking on the subject. With the Meta One concept car, he appointed the interior with three LCD screens for displaying gauges and navigation information and a fourth touch screen for controlling functions such as the radio. It's also got a cell phone-inspired wireless "key" for storing a person's screen orientation and other preferences.
CNET News.com spoke with Prozzi about what he sees on the road ahead--especially as it concerns design issues and the pending marriage of cars and computers.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for the dashboard layout of the Meta One?
Prozzi: I was looking for something that was simplified. Let's face it: People work a crazy life. I hear people say they work 9 to 5, but in reality, they work 5 to 9. With all this overabundance of buttons, controls and visuals, people are not spending enough time doing what they're supposed to be doing when behind the wheel.
What was the chief technology challenge?
Prozzi: My challenge was to use the technology to simplify things like a home computer does. It brings up your e-mail and runs an
If, for example, you needed to be at the Javits Center at 9:30 a.m. and you were driving in from Staten Island, your car already knows you have to get to a certain place. It could pre-plan a route, check for accidents and change that route according to what's going on, and remind you along the way to pick up Joe, the camera man--and not to forget an extra battery pack for his equipment.
How do you incorporate all that into a car design?
Prozzi: The first thing is simplification. I'd rather start the car--and do that not necessarily by using the traditional key but the way you would engage other high-end electronics devices with a button you push. So, we use an electronic button both to start and shift. We took the idea of a key and notched it up a few levels. We're now into this sort of iconic status symbol that acts as an interface between your other electronic devices like a laptop, a PDA and a cell phone.
Is there anything else you would communicate with?
Prozzi: My feeling is that everything is beginning to converge. Your cell phone can now hold all of your appointments. So why not
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